Date of Publication : 26.6.2018
Media Outlet : Daily Sabah
Writer : İbrahim Kalın
Source of Image : AA
Detail : Original Text

Turkish voters went to the polls on June 24 in a critical election for the presidency and Parliament. The level of participation was high again at over 80 percent. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan received 52.5 percent of the vote to clinch his re-election. He received approximately 10 million votes more than his closest opponent. The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) won another landslide victory with 42.5 percent. The People's Alliance, comprised of the AK Party and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), has a comfortable majority in Parliament.

The results show the people's continuing confidence in Erdoğan and his party. Equally important is the support given to the new presidential system. Erdoğan has thus been elected as the first president of the new system. In a fiercely contested election, Erdoğan ran an effective campaign and maintained his popularity with the people. Opposition parties scored some points but failed to garner enough support to challenge Erdoğan's strong standing in Turkish politics. Having been in power for 16 years and with 13 elections and referenda wins, Erdoğan led his closest rival by more than 20 points. There is no other living political figure anywhere in the world who can claim this title. This speaks volumes about not only his political genius but also the sociopolitical realities of Turkish society, which many outside observers fail to understand.

Erdoğan and his AK Party have remained popular in Turkey thanks to their strong track record since 2002. The overwhelming majority of voters applaud Erdoğan's leadership and maintain that he successfully fixed the Turkish economy, created a more resilient and inclusive political system and made people from diverse backgrounds more welcome in the fields of economy, politics and social mobilization.Erdoğan's secret to success is his track record of putting the people first. Beyond the never-ending fray of party politics and identity politics, Erdoğan has worked tirelessly to raise the level of living standards of millions of low- and middle-income families and invested in education, health, infrastructure, roads, airports and public housing. He has been a champion of social justice policies that have worked to the benefit of both urban and rural communities across the country.

Erdoğan's success is not just about service politics. He has opened up the social and political space of the country to diverse identities including religious individuals, Kurds, Alevis and non-Muslim minorities like Jews, the Greek Orthodox community, Armenians and Assyrians. The ban on the Kurdish language has been lifted and Kurds, like other ethnic groups, can express themselves freely. The path to vertical and horizontal social mobility has been opened to them. In fact, Erdoğan has many Kurdish figures in his ranks. He maintains a strong bond with all segments of Turkish society including the Kurds. By making a clear distinction between the PKK terrorist organization and the Kurds, he has freed them from the oppression and subversion of this terror network that cares more about its own survival than the real issues of the Kurdish people.